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Native Food Security from Lack to Abundance

March 1, 2023

Before there was a need for words like food security, Indigenous peoples stewarded the land through cultural foodways as a means of sustenance in harmony with the natural world. According to global definitions, food security exists "when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life." In juxtaposition, Native Food Security exists when American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians, at all times, have access to an abundance of culturally relevant foods to meet their dietary needs and preferences for a healthy tribal community.The difference between food security and Native Food Security is cultural. Food security, in general, focuses on the needs of individuals or individual households. Native Food Security concerns both the physical and spiritual nourishment of the family, household, tribe, clan, community, place, land, and the foods themselves. A healthy tribal community fosters intergenerational responsibility through reciprocal relationships with all relations. 

Perspectives on Native Food Sovereignty & Health Equity

March 1, 2023

Food sovereignty is the peoples' right to have and sustainably produce food that is safe,nutritious and appropriate. As defined by First Nations Development Institute, Native Food Sovereignty is "the right of American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians to produce their own traditional foods on their own lands to sustain themselves, their families, and their communities." Native Food Sovereignty also "defends the interests and inclusion of the next generation."Native Food Sovereignty requires that we address inequity that exists in relation to health and well-being. In a world where we've achieved health equity all Native people are able to attain their full potential for health and well-being. From an Indigenous viewpoint, physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental health have always been interconnected in terms of well-being and harmony—seated in ancestral lands and lifeways as aspects of cultural, family, and community identity. The practice of cultural foodways is essential for the health and well-being of Native peoples. Practicing cultural foodways is entwined with access to land and control of the growing, processing, and sharing of food in Native communities. 

Serving Native Youth: A Dialogue on Native Food Sovereignty and Native Food Security

March 1, 2023

In 2022, four Native American community-based organizations that serve Native youth gathered to give their perspectives on Native Food Security and Native Food Sovereignty. Each organization brought members of their team who support their food and cultural education endeavors and work intimately with Native youth. They learned about each other's programs and quickly realized that they share many similar values, challenges, and dreams.

Honoring Indigenous Knowledge: First Nations Annual Report 2020

December 22, 2021

First Nations recognizes that accessing healthy food is a challenge for many Native American children and families. Without access to healthy food, a nutritious diet and good health are outof reach. To increase access to healthy food, we support tribes and Native communities as they build sustainable food systems that improve health, strengthen food security and economies, increase control over Native agriculture and food systems, and promote Native food sovereignty.

First Nations Annual Report 2020

December 22, 2021

The year 2020 is not one that will be forgotten.On the 40th Anniversary year of First NationsDevelopment Institute, the world experienceda deadly pandemic and the aftershocks thatcontinue to plague communities locally andglobally.

Outcomes Under the Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative

January 1, 2018

A local food system includes all actions involved in the production, processing, transport, consumption and regulation of food. It also includes perceptions, understandings and values assigned to food within a given community. Prior to contact with Europeans, Native peoples had self-sufficient and sustainable food systems that persisted since time immemorial. Over time, removal from traditional homelands, limited access to traditional food sources, transitions to cash economies, and language loss, among other things, weakened tribal food systems. Today, many Native communities and households are food insecure, dependent on outside food sources, and maintain a diet of Western foodstuffs that are often linked to negative and deteriorating health, community and economic outcomes.Recognizing that the loss of self-sufficient food systems is a contributing factor to the myriad of issues Native communities face today, First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) works with and supports Native American communities in reclaiming local food-system control. Local food-system control is foundational to reversing years of colonization that aimed to destroy cultural and traditional belief systems and dismantle Native social and economic systems that were intricately connected to local food systems. If Native communities can control local food systems, food can become a driver for cultural revitalization, improving community health and well-being, and economic development.

A Call To Action: Increasing Opportunities for Native American Student Success

December 31, 2017

The Bush Foundation brought together Native education experts from across the region to create a collective vision for how to increase opportunities for Native student success.This report provides the insights and recommendations of the Native Education Advisory Group. Each section encompasses the insight and knowledge of the collective group to provide a better understanding of the past, present, and future of Native education.

Indian Country Food Price Index: Exploring Variation in Food Pricing Across Native Communities, A Working Paper

June 30, 2016

First Nations prepared this report that finds Native consumers in or near reservation communities generally have to spend more on food products than the national average, despite the fact that incomes are usually much lower in these communities while food access is, largely, much more difficult due to distance and transportation issues. The report was created as part of First Nations' work to combat food insecurity, eliminate "food deserts" in Native American communities, and support economic and business development.

Roots of Change: Food Policy in Native Communities

January 1, 2016

The food sovereignty movement in Indian Country has been spurred by the hard work and dedication of reservation based community and nonprofit organizations and forward thinking tribal governments. All are looking to sustain and protect traditional food sources, control local food systems and improve community, nutrition, health and economies. Increasingly, these various groups within the food movement in Indian Country are examining how tribal policy and legislation can be used to change behaviors related to diet, health and economy and increase regulatory control over local food systems.The organizing efforts of tribes and community groups bring to light several important questions about tribal food policy and legislative authority, including:1) What is the history of law and policy in Native communities, especially related to food policy development?2) What is food policy in Native communities?3) Can we identify factors that may stimulate and stall food policy development and effectiveness in Native communities?In this report, we attempt to address these questions and provide a greater understanding of tribal food policy development across Native communities. This report is not intended to be an extensive review of the legislative interaction between tribes and the federal government. Rather it is a starting point to further the conversation about the opportunities and challenges that Native nations may face when examining and enacting recent food policies.

Telling Our Giving Stories: Native Philanthropy and Community Development

September 17, 2015

An increasing number of tribes and Native nonprofits are using philanthropy to capitalize economic and community development programs in their communities, protect Native financial assets, and support diverse Indigenous cultures. This report presents information on Native grantmakers and their philanthropic impact.

Investing in Native Youth: Grantmaking Trends from the Native Youth and Culture Fund

July 28, 2015

In this report, First Nations highlights a snapshot of grant requests under our Native Youth and Culture Fund from 2010 through 2014.

Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative: A Final Evaluation Report of 2012-2014 Program Activities

February 1, 2015

Since 2012, First Nations Development Institute, with generous support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, has been implementing a multi-faceted national strategy that seeks to build a sustainable movement in Native communities to address food systems, food insecurity and food deserts. The signature component of this effort is the Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative (NAFSI). This evaluation report describes the activities and outcomes of the effort from 2012 through 2014, and provides additional social networking and cluster analyses.